Road Rage is finally complete.
I put a lot of work in to this one in terms of balancing the action versus rewarding the player with plenty of on-screen action.
I’m not really in to doing post-mortems on my games but for this one I’d say it’s come out pretty close to how I envisaged it. I made a decision early on to keep the pace up and allow the player a fair amount of freedom to move and blast things. To that end I litter the screen with explosions, bombs, bullets and debris.
I’m hoping that it’s well received enough to justify the extra effort :)
Ultimately the question of “is it fun?” has to be answered and I’d have to say that the feedback from testing that I’ve had is extremely positive. Most of the comments returned highlight the soundtrack, audio fx and big colourful sprites. I’m thrilled to read such encouraging comments since it pretty much underpins my ethos for making games. It’s certainly something that will carry over in to my book.
You can play the game over at the arcade. Sign up, sign in and shoot for the top spot. Let’s see how good you are!
In wrapping up the development of Road Rage I hit one or two snags. This annoys the hell out of me since it is largely due to big holes in the game’s design.
I’m a designer who likes to have the core stuff ironed out long before I get my hands dirty with code and graphics. The central mechanics of the game are the first thing I figure out and everything else gets built around it.
For Road Rage the central theme is the winding road that shifts at pace beneath the action and provides a rapidly changing restriction to the player’s movement. If the car veers off-road it incurs significant damage.
This all worked out well initially. I’d used the code base for Spy Chase as a foundation and built upon it with layers of activity. The problem was that the game was actually far too easy to play and I wasn’t willing to compromise any of the design features.
The road movement look neat, the laser fire from the player’s car worked well, the missile fire from the enemy looked great and the explosions and special effects all added a wonderful depth to the game. But it was just too easy.
The player’s movement was limited but fairly swift in the x axis and his laser fire was rapid. This I liked. Everything played out smooth and it felt like the most complete arcade game I’d ever made.
Injecting the time limit was a late addition and it really intensified the challenge.
Then it occured to me that the fundamental issue was with the player’s ability to shield damage from bombs, cars and the off-road. This increased the player’s chance of survival through to the health regenerating Checkpoint between stages.
I played with a few different means of punishing the player and settled on a single hit from a bullet or missile destroying the car. Bumping other cars and trucks took a small amount off the player’s “health” (pretty vital as bumping is a key feature in the game and a fair bit of fun) and running off-road added larger amounts of damage. I didn’t want to destroy the car for veering off road as in some cases it’s unavoidable. Better to add damage and encourage the player to return to the road at the earliest opportunity.
So the game dynamics are now set such that the player avoids enemy fire at all costs and shifts left and right to collect, dodge and shoot. So much so that you could pretty much remove the road and backdrop and it’d play out like an old school shoot ’em up.
I think the game is a huge amount of fun and faithful to the arcade game designer’s ethos of short, challenging and intense fun for your coin. Hopefully it will encourage a high percentage of replays!
Road Rage will find its way to the PlayStar Arcade in the next week or so.
I installed the Camtasia Studio over the weekend and captured a few short videos of my development projects.
I couldn’t resist sharing the video for Road Rage as it captures everything I ever wanted in a game: colour, chaos, rich audio and a ton of explosions. Yup, I have an explosion fetish! The more the better. The louder the bang the better. In fact the more intense the on-screen action the better.
I hope to have it completed soon and upload it to the PlayStar Mobile Arcade where gamers can test their skills against one another and compete for the high score :-)